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Labral Tears — Causes, Symptoms and Recommended Treatments

Written by Nancy

Does your shoulder lock, catch, or get stiff when you lift heavy objects? These are all symptoms associated with a possible injury or damage to the shoulder joint.

Shoulder injuries are among the top most common work injuries in Canada. They are more prevalent in older employees, as the shoulder joint goes through inevitable degenerative changes that are linked with ageing over time.

Shoulder Labral Tears

The shoulder joint is surrounded by flexible and fibrous connective tissues. These tissues are also called the labrum, and provide stability to the joint. The labrum also facilitates the flexibility needed to move and stretch the joint.

A tear in the labrum, also known as a shoulder labral tear, can occur anywhere in the ring of tissue. The most common location where the tear occurs is the point where the labrum connects to the bicep tendon.

What Causes A Shoulder Labral Tear?

Tears can develop over time as the muscle and bone structure of the joint ages and cannot absorb impacts as efficiently. Repeated throwing actions and activities involving raising the arms overhead can also cause tears in an already weakened labrum.

Another common cause of labrum tears is trauma. A dislocated shoulder, a violent blow while reaching overhead, or falling onto an outstretched hand can cause traumatic tears in the tissue.

Symptoms of Shoulder Labral Tears

Shoulder labral tears can be very painful and are often accompanied by grinding, popping, or locking sensation. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of strength
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Instability in the shoulder joint
  • Pain when performing daily activities especially at night.


Treatment Options for Shoulder Labral Tears

Labral tears are typically treated with nonsurgical methods such as over-the-counter medications, rest, and physical therapy. These help in relieving painful symptoms, allowing the injured ligament to heal naturally.

In some cases, orthopedic specialists recommend minimally invasive surgery or medical injections to encourage the growth of new cells to heal and strengthen the joint.

Get In Touch With Experienced Orthopaedic Specialists at SEMI

Looking for leading Orthopaedic specialists in the Greater Toronto Area?

Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute sports medicine and physiotherapy clinic offers the services of the experienced Orthopedic doctors and sports injury specialists in Toronto. They offer expert diagnoses and hands-on assessments, as well as customized treatment plans and patient education for several musculoskeletal issues including labral tears.

Their services also include foot pain podiatry services, massage therapy, custom orthotics, and much more!

Contact them today to schedule an appointment or visit their website for more information!

About the author


I’m Nancy and no, I didn’t always look like I do in that picture on the right. My foray into health and fitness began as a brace-faced, 16 year-old who was too afraid to wear a two-piece at the beach because I felt my body paled in comparison to my much more toned friends.

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